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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

I've just finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and what a book it was.  For two weeks I've been in and out of Tudor England.  During this period (c.1520's - 1530's) Henry VIII was married to Katherine of Aragon and then to Anne Boleyn.  The novel centres around the adoption of the Act of Supremacy which made Henry the head of the church in England.  Henry wanted his marriage to Katherine (who had been married to Henry's brother Arthur before Arthur died) annulled by the Pope in Rome.  Thomas More is a staunch RC and he goes about torturing followers of Luther and anyone who has a copy of the Bible translated into English.  In the end More is beheaded because he will not take an oath recognising Henry as the head of the church. The novel is told through the mind of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell's story is gripping.  

Apart from all this history and intrigue there are some gorgeous descriptions and really insightful and intuitive passages in the novel. Here are two of my favourite:  

There is a world beyond this black world.  There is a world of the possible.  A world where Anne can be queen is a world where Cromwell can be Cromwell.  He sees it; then he doesn't.  The moment is fleeting.  But insight cannot be taken back.  You cannot return to the moment you were in before. (Mantel 2010, p. 205)


There are great pearls which gleam wet from the ocean, sapphires hot as India.  There are jewels like the fruit you pick on a country afternoon: garnets like sloes, pink diamonds like rosehips. (Mantel 2010, p. 582-583)

The sequel to this book is called Bring up the Bodies.  A further novel in the series The Mirror and the Light is expected next year.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wordlegs Issue 17

Wordlegs is an online literary journal edited by Elizabeth Reapy.  wordlegs was founded by Elizabeth Reapy and Cathal Sherlock in early 2010. It was set up to provide a platform to showcase young and emerging Irish writing talent and also to encourage a younger audience back to reading literature.

wordlegs strives to be an innovative and supportive literary organisation.

2014 will be the zines last year culminating in issue 20.  This issue 17 contains poetry by Phil Lynch, Maeve O'Sullivan, Faye Boland, Sarah O'Connor, Caleb Brennan, Daniel Ryan, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Tsang and James Conor Patterson.  Short stories and flash fiction are also included.  Poetry was guest edited by Kate Dempsey and she says in her editorial: But the star of my bunch was Orla Fay whose three poems were tough to whittle down to one but I settled on a lusty sonnet that should delight all.  Thanks Kate!

You can read the magazine here wordlegs

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Boyne Berries, The SHOp and Wordlegs

Come this summer I am taking over the editorship of Boyne Berries, the bi-annual literary magazine of The Boyne Writers' Group. Thank you to everyone in the group for allowing me this opportunity to edit the magazine. Since its inception in the Spring of 2007 Michael Farry has served as editor, nurturing the magazine to the zenith of the approaching 15th issue which will be launched in The Castle Arch Hotel in late March.  Boyne Berries 14 was guest edited by Kate Dempsey.  Although I have served on the editorial board of the magazine this role of editor will be challenging and I hope to steer this vessel of poetry and prose into clear and open seas with an open mind and strong, safe hands, as it has been accustomed to. I do hope I can test the waters too. It goes without saying that my heart will be in the task.

In other news I am completely thrilled to have had a poem accepted by The SHOp magazine which is based in Schull, Co. Cork:

The SHOp

The poem will be published sometime over the coming year.  

I'm also looking forward to the 17th issue of Wordlegs going live as I have had a poem accepted for that.